Day 20 - December 22, 2017

As in a Mirror

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

In Genesis 1:27, we are told that God created humankind in God’s image, both male and female. We don’t understand this to mean just our physical bodies, but rather that the Holy Spirit is reflected in each of us. Yet seeing God in others has hardly been the dominant narrative of our time. On the one hand, society and the Church has made great strides in tolerance, diversity, and inclusion of many previously marginalized groups. At the same time, there is also great tension and fear surrounding such changes. Too frequently, healthy debate between those of differing backgrounds or political and theological views devolve into personal attacks on the value and character of those who are in disagreement. In fact, tit-for-tat ad hominem attacks in our public discourse have become so pervasive and commonplace, it hardly seems a worthy topic to comment on, much less write a devotional about. More significantly, however, societal forces (and/or social media algorithms) are dividing and segregating us from each other along cultural and political divisions. 

Indeed, it is just so easy to gravitate toward others who look like and see the world just like me. It is comforting to be told that I’m right, and I can even prooftext scripture to justify my self-segregation. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 tells us not to be yoked with unbelievers, and to “be ye separate,” right? 1 Thessalonians 5:11 tell us to build each other up—meaning other believers who agree with us, right? I mean, come on—conflict is messy! It can be stressful. Sometimes a voice which is different than mine just tells me things I don’t want to hear and makes me question beliefs and views I haven’t had to struggle with for a long time, if ever. Surely my faith and relationship with God, not to mention my Church, is stronger when I stick to those who readily affirm what I already know to be true, right?

Yet the scriptures beg to differ. Romans 12:3-8 tells us to get off our high horse and embrace the diversity of gifts that God has given the members of the Body of Christ. Paul further develops this theme of the interdependence of different members in 1 Corinthians 12:12-30, extending the metaphor to imagine the absurdity of an eye telling a hand that it is not needed, or the head telling the feet it doesn’t them. Similarly, different gifts and callings are all important to the Church. Anyone who has served on a board or governing body of a church or nonprofit will have observed the value in having a diversity of viewpoints and talents. Yet how often do we choose to devalue and distain and eventually distance ourselves from differing voices or callings in our church—or more practically, our circle of acquaintances and social media contacts? Is this any less absurd than one body part thinking it has no need of other body parts? We need to see those people and hear those voices because, even if we disagree with them, even if we don’t quite understand them, even if we fear them, there is something of God reflected in them. Indeed, if the human body mirrors the Holy Spirit and God’s vision for the Church, then even in our divisions—like shattered pieces of a mirror—we may see reflected back to us parts of God we could not have imagined. If we consider it a sin to turn away from God, then is it also not a sin to turn away from each other? 

Prayer
God, you sent us the Incarnate Christ in an unlikely time and form. Keep us open to see Jesus in those around us, even when we least expect it.

submitted by David J. Grummon

<< Back to the Advent page